La Palma Nature - Canary Islands

Not without good reason, La Palma is also known as isla bonita and referred to as a miniature continent. The bulwarks of the Caldera, the northsouth aligned summit ridge and the almost all-year-round north-east trade winds are responsible for the countless micro-climates found on La Palma and the contrasting vegetation levels lying close together on the steep mountain slopes.

Along the rugged coastal cliffs , broken by coves with black, volcanic sand beaches, succulent plants are found growing and higher up, bananas, citrus and tropical fruits and food crops, vines, tobacco and almonds. The hillsides are covered with sunlit pine forests while only broom and a few stuned pine trees cling tothe bizarre rock formations in the summit region.

The island has grown from north to south. Deep ravines carpeted with laurel forests run through the older, already heavily eroded north. Amid these prehistoric, sub-tropical forests abounding in giant ferns. Los Tilos can be found, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983. A glaring contrast to this lush vegetation in provided by the still-active south of the island with its bizantine volcanic landscapes. It was here that the Teneguía, Spain´s most recent volcanic eruption took place in 1971.

Characteristic of the island´s varied nature is the fact that of the 744 species of wild plants growing on La Palma, 219 are indigenous, 70 are only found on La Palma, 104 only in the Canaries and 45 only in Macaronesia (Canaries, Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde islands). Moreover, 55% of the island is covered by woodland, 35% is listed as a conservation area. The Caldera de Taburiente was declared a National Park in 1954, in the autumm of 2002 the whole island became a Biosphere Reserve. The waters off the west coast are not only a prohibited fishing area (Reserva Marina) but also a Site of Community Interest. A further European conservation area lies on the north coast of the island.

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